Writing A Story Checklist

by TheHack on June 15, 2010

Quick side plot. For one of my classes this summer, I have to do 60 hours of community service. I’ll be doing mine at the local library shelving books. I’m pretty excited. So, I had my first meeting with them last week and afterward picked up a book to read, of course.

Back to the main story. I’ve been working on a book which so far has involved me writing scenes between 500-1000 words from random spots of the story. I’m trying to get a feel of what the story is and who the characters are. And I’m just having fun with it.

Only it stopped being fun because I realized that I needed to start framing the story toward some kind of structure.

Completely independent of this, I happened to pick up a book from the library while looking for a copy of the most recent Writer’s Markets book. I grabbed Fiction Writing Demystified and started flipping through it. The author has spent years writing for TV but the book is geared toward writing a book (which he has also done).

I’m about a third of the way through and there is some good advice (and his writing style of entertaining) but over the course of a few different sections, I came up with my checklist for getting on track with this book (or any fiction project I decide to work on).

  • Find a hero
  • Find the hero’s goal
  • Find the main conflict that is going to prevent him from reaching that goal?

Hero being a completely gender neutral term, of course.

Basic stuff, for sure, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a story knowing only one of those answers. So far in this book I’m working on, I just know the last one (I think). That’s a problem. And while thinking about this, I realized that the hero of this particular story isn’t even one of the two characters that I’ve spent most of my time writing about so far. That’s another problem.

The good news is that the hero is a character that I just recently wrote a scene about. He was mostly just a character that I tossed in to contrast with the other two but he’s the one who will eventually both cause and fix the big problem. He’s the hero.

That’s good to know.

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